Carers play a vital role in our society. They provide essential care for people with a disability or mental illness, with debilitating medical conditions or who are elderly and need additional support in their day to day lives.
The value of their service is immeasurable and Australian governments – both at the federal and state level – offer a range of benefits specifically for carers.
Today, we look at some of the key support packages available and highlight where to go for more information.
Financial support - federal and state
Most financial payments available to carers are facilitated directly through Centrelink. These are federally allocated payments and each has its own set of eligibility criteria. We outline these in more detail below.
State-based packages tend to provide additional support that relieves the financial strain associated with caring for an elderly person, or someone with a disability or medical condition. Each state or territory has a different range of programs available and has specific criteria to determine eligibility.
Federal Government benefits
Different Federal Government financial benefits are available through Centrelink. They are categorised based on the type of care provided. The Services Australia website outlines these as –
Carer Payment – provides financial help to people who are unable to work in substantial paid employment. This must be because they provide full-time daily care for someone either:
- with severe disability or medical condition, or
- who is elderly and frail.
Carer Allowance – is an income supplement for parents or carers providing extra daily care for either:
- an adult or dependent child with disability or a medical condition, or
- someone who is elderly and frail.
Carer Allowance is a fortnightly payment. There is an annual income test, but no assets test. Carer Allowance is not taxable. It is payable in addition to:
- your wages,
- Carer Payment,
- any other income support payment.
Carer Supplement – is an annual lump sum payment. It helps with the costs of caring for a person with a disability or a medical condition. Carer Supplement is applicable if you’re receiving Carer Payment or Carer Allowance.
Carer Adjustment Payment – is a one-off payment. It helps families deal with the increased costs of caring for a child that is both:
- 7 years of age or younger
- has had a sudden and severe illness or accident.
Child Disability Assistance Payment is an annual lump sum payment. It helps parents with the costs of caring for a child with disability.
Pensioner Education Supplement helps with the costs of full time or part time study in a secondary or tertiary course.
To find out more about these benefits visit the Services Australia website or contact your local Centrelink office.
State government support
Every state government has its own range of carer support programs. As an example, here in Victoria, the government offers Individual Support Packages where funds are provided to cover the financial costs associated with disability-related care needs. The funds can be utilised for support services that help individuals meet their goals. These can include services to help them maintain their independent living arrangements, learn new skills, or be active community members.
While these packages are specifically for individuals with a disability, they are indirectly beneficial for carers as they can help alleviate financial pressures.
There is also the Support for Carers Program in Victoria. This government program is designed to provide respite and other support for carers of all ages.
This includes one-off or short-term assistance to supplement current services or fill a service gap. It also focuses on the carer’s wellbeing and makes sure they have access to activities and social groups that offer a break from their caring duties.
The government’s BetterHealth website has more information on this and other carer services.
Carers with dependent children
If a carer also has their own dependent children, the Federal Government has some additional benefits. These include Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B, the Parenting Payment, the Child Care Subsidy and the Double Orphan Pension.
You can find out more about each of these benefits on the Services Australia website.
Where to get help
In addition to the benefits we have already discussed, there are some other organisations that provide support services and have useful information available. To find assistance in a local area, Centrelink’s Payment and Service Finder is helpful.
The government’s Carer Gateway offers extensive information about services and support available for carers. Plus, Carers Australia has a national website as well as state based options – such as the Victoria site or the NSW site.